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Last Month's Top Sellers

1. JACK WHITE - Lazaretto
2. SHARON VAN ETTEN - Are We There
3. OWEN PALLETT - In Conflict
4. COURTNEY BARNETT - The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas
5. THE BLACK KEYS - Turn Blue

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FEATURED RELEASES

Thursday
Jul242014

VA - Eccentric Soul: The Way Out Label

We recently received a call from a customer looking to track down a song their toddler was groovin' to in the shop. Well, after some detective work we determined it was the fantastic "Demanding Man" by The Sensations from this wonderful collection of Cleveland soul. There are many other danceable groovers on here, as well as some deeper soul, like the fabulous "I've Got Everything I Need" by The Soul Notes. 

"Fueled by the financial drippings of number runners and boosted by Hall-of-Fame running back Jim Brown, Cleveland, Ohio's Way Out Records offered asylum for a rising crop of rogue soul men, rust-belt vocal ensembles, and trial-by-fire producers. Helmed by a friendly consortium of hustlers, police officers, and gridiron giants, pet project beget obsession as Motown arrangers, gospel choirs, and the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra were all beckoned to the wrong side of the tracks to mint masterpieces for the Sensations, Volcanic Eruption, the Exceptional Three, and Bobby Wade, all beneath the mindful gaze of a wall-mounted shotgun. Reaching their peak in the late '60s, Eccentric Soul: The Way Out Label gathers the brightest moments from the quirky operation's eleven year bid." - Numero Group

Saturday
Jul192014

DONNIE & JOE EMERSON - Still Dreamin' Wild: The Lost Recordings 1979-81

The archival sequel to Light In The Attic's original reissue of the Emerson brothers' lone private press effort, Still Dreamin' Wild manages to be both more cleanly produced and arguably slightly stranger than its predecessor (and certainly more synth-laced); consider it the Tusk to Dreamin' Wild's Rumours.

"Still Dreamin’ Wild: The Lost Recordings 1979-81 presents that secondary stage of reissue culture, culling demos in the years after the younger Emerson graduated high school and began traveling to Los Angeles in the hopes of realizing his teenage dreams. Older brother Joe was already turning his attentions to the family farm, his presence only heard on two of the album’s twelve tracks. Donnie’s polymath musical skills are on full display, from drums to poly-Moog synth, and his ability to mimic the more popular hits on the radio of the day remains uncanny." - Pitchfork

Saturday
Jul192014

ALEXIS TAYLOR - Await Barbarians

Some of us on staff here were bigger-than-expected fans of Alexis Taylor's first solo album Rubbed Out when it was released back in October 2008, and Await Barbarians makes for another good-humoured, heart-on-sleeve sleeper set of songs teetering between thoughtful, singer/songwriter-ly tunefulness and gleeful electronic abandon.

"Taylor lays bare the heart and art always faintly detectable beneath the happy grooves. His high, thin vocals, careful diction and formal lyrical style are well suited to the more traditional role of sensitive singer-songwriter. Framed by wonky and at times extremely minimalist electronica, with ambient noises and odd glitches, his songs strike a balance between a kind of country folksiness and offbeat futurism. Lyrically, preoccupations include mortality, relationship problems and general anxieties about life but leavened by dry humour that is more playful than melancholy." - The Telegraph

Saturday
Jul192014

SLINT - Spiderland (remastered CD/LP with outtakes/demos + DVD)

If you passed on the pricy limited-edition Record Store Day box set but were pining to watch the enclosed Breadcrumb Trail documentary, now's your chance to check it out, bundled with a brand-new remastering of the original record as well as a download card with 14 tracks' worth of never-before-heard rehearsal and demo material.

"A foreword by collaborator Will Oldham, 14 previously unreleased outtakes and demos, and a documentary detail the creation of the album and the career arc of Slint in general. Spiderland itself remains a wasteland, a bleak, undead sulk of spindling guitar and hollow percussion. Seven-minute conclusion 'Good Morning, Captain' constitutes a main talking point, Brian McMahan's bizarre, spoken-word fairy tale wrapping around an oppressive death march. And yet, when you page through the booklet you'll see smiling faces, kids having fun recording in the studio. It's as if this reissue wants to prove Slint was human, not just a faceless menace that cut a record lost to time and circumstance, worthy of celebration and also fitting neatly in a box." - Austin Chronicle

Friday
Jul112014

VA - Hello Everyone: Popsike Sparks From Denmark Street 1968-70

We’ve been utterly charmed by this new offering from Cherry Red's psych imprint Grapefruit, a compilation of songs from the short-lived UK label Spark. It’s a psych-pop whirlwind that jumps from early glam (The Baby's "Heartbreaker") to a pair of trippy Donovan covers by the eternally electric actor/singer Eartha Kitt.

"The best of Spark's impressive roster is now collected on CD for the first time on Hello Everyone: Popsike Sparks From Denmark Street 1968-70, which assembles highly-prized, highly-priced 45s from pre-Rare Bird band Fruit Machine, Gene Latter, post-Sorrows outfit The Eggy, The New Generation (subsequently to become the Sutherland Brothers), the Dennis Wheatley-inspired Icarus and both sides of the magnificent and astonishingly rare single by Sir Ching I (only one stock copy known to exist).  Also included are exquisite Brit popsike singles from Timothy Blue, Just William, both sides of the superb John Carter/Russ Alquist collaboration 'The Laughing Man'/'Midsummer Dreaming' and two sensational offerings from Eartha Kitt during her brief and unlikely immersion in late-Sixties hippy-chick chic." - Cherry Red

Thursday
Jun192014

MAX RICHTER - Retrospective (4CD)

The success of Max Richter's Recomposition of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, our best-selling classical release of the past five years by a significant margin, has resulted in this repackaging of four of his earlier releases in a stunning box set by Deutsche Grammophon. A beautiful hybrid of ambient, classical and electronic styles.

"Whether it be the Haruki Murakami readings and subtle piano arrangements with the broken synapse electronics flickering in the background on parts of 2006's Songs From Before or the more mechanical effusions that emit a dystopian glow from 2008's 24 Postcards In Full Colour, there is a restless energy percolating beneath the elegance and the elegiac. 2010’s Infra closes out the set, an album that fuses the electronic, the orchestral and the ethereal like no other piece this reviewer’s heard before or since.

By corralling all of Richter's fine works of this period together,
 Retrospective firmly underscores the belief that music can transcend all boundaries. From the soaring wonders of On The Nature Of Daylight right through to the mournful violin that sees out Infra 8, Richter beckons for the listener to close their eyes and jump into the nebulous abyss of their own imagination. That ability is truly magical." - TheMusic.com.au

Thursday
Jun192014

THE SUPERBS - The Best Of The Superbs

Kent Records has released a few soul group harmony compilations in the past, including the solid Soul In Harmony release from last December. Here, the label's focus is on just one group, LA's Superbs, who play a pleasing hybrid of doo-wop and early soul styles that should appeal to fans of both genres. A particular highlight is the finale of 'The Big Hurt,' when a mind-blowing falsetto appears out of nowhere, putting an exclamation point on the agony of waiting for the final argument that ends a relationship.

"One R&B hit with 'Baby, Baby All The Time' is a poor return for the 25 singles The Superbs had on the Doré label between 1964 and 1987, and does not reflect the importance the group had on the Los Angeles soul harmony scene. Their enduring popularity and the high esteem in which they are held by soul music lovers in the USA is a truer indication of their impact. The Low Rider scene in LA in particular looks on them as demigods. They had their own instantly recognisable sound, a feature that can be attributed to only a handful of soul groups. It's the ballad side of their work that appeals to soul harmony collectors. Although their sound can be quite sweet, the subtle early Gene Page arrangements and clever song selection makes their music appealing to all soul fans." - Ace Records

Thursday
Jun192014

MELANIE DE BIASIO - No Deal

Tasteful, subtle and inscrutable, Belgium's De Biasio and band have made one of the few modern vocal jazz records to've caused our heads to turn and ears to perk up!

"No Deal was recorded in 3 days and we adopted a basic, old-way approach to this with everyone in the same room except the vocalist, separated by a transparent window. The placement of the microphones and musicians were really important, so the whole of the first day was used to do this. We wanted it to be perfect. Over the next two days we created the textures and colours of No Deal. Once we finished recording, I took my time to really extract and distill the essence of the album." - Melanie De Biasio, as told to Q Magazine

Thursday
Jun122014

DJANGO DJANGO - LateNightTales

Eclectic without sacrificing form and flow, Django Django deliver a LateNightTales mix that effortlessly flits from jazz-funk to contemporary bass tracks to sunshine psych to yacht rock and back again, while also introducing us to the stunning "Poor Moon," what must be the most entrancing Blind Owl-sung Canned Heat song we'd never heard.

"At one end of the Django spectrum there's James Last, the terminally unhip Teuton, whose 'Inner City Blues' shows you can never underestimate the Germans, while at the far reaches of the mix, they manage to sneak in Ramadanman ('Bass Drums') and Hudson Mohawke and Lunice collaboration TNGHT's 'Bugg'n.' You can hear the echoes of influences in some of the selections, like The Beach Boys whose peerless 'Surf's Up' makes a welcome appearance halfway through, while Seals & Crofts' 'Get Closer' show what sun-drenched pop can sound like when it's done well.

And because it's Late Night Tales there's a sparkling cover version of 'Porpoise Song,' the theme from The Monkees daffily brilliant Head, an admirably lysergic termination to this waltz through pop's nooks and cranberries. "You should never be afraid to make a fool of yourself for art," Dave Maclean once said. Let's raise a dram to Scotland's favourite fools on the hill." - LateNightTales
Thursday
Jun122014

VA - Mod Jazz And Then Some! / VA - Paul Murphy Presents The Return Of Jazz Club

Two new jazz sets from Ace Records' Kent and BGP imprints, with the former expanding upon the the Mod Jazz series' focus on the early-'60s intersection of jazzy R&B and bluesy jazz, while the latter features the sort of latin jazz and hard bop cuts that once filled the dancefloor during Paul Murphy's mid-'80s proto-rare groove/acid jazz DJing heyday in London.

"You probably know the Mod Jazz drill by now: 24 cuts that have the feel of a smoky early-'60s basement about them, with plenty of jazz attitude, a touch of the blues (as Bobby 'Blue' Bland might have sung) and a pinch of latin spice. It's the sort of music that makes you want to don a midnight blue mohair two-piece with some well-polished Bass Weejuns and take to the dancefloor." - Ace Records

"Culled from the extensive Prestige and Riverside catalogues, The Return Of Jazz Club is mix of all the things good about Paul Murphy's original Jazz Club compilations: distinctive latin jazz from Art Farmer and Billy Taylor, a touch of vocal jazz from Eddie Jefferson and dancefloor-friendly blues-filled gems such as Bennie Green's 'Hi-Yo Silver'." - Ace Records

Friday
Jun062014

DUST & GROOVES: Adventures In Record Collecting

The layout and long-form interviews on Eilon Paz's nearly-six-year-old website have been consistently impressive enough to continue to gain the sustained attention of legions of collectors and music-lovers online—now behold the huge hardcover book!

"Eilon Paz’s 416-page coffee-table book illuminates over 130 vinyl collectors and their collections in the most intimate of environments—their record rooms. With a foreword by the RZA, compelling photographic essays are paired with in-depth interviews to illustrate what motivates record collectors to keep digging for more records.

Readers get an up close and personal look at a variety of well-known vinyl champions as well as a glimpse into the collections of known and unknown DJs, producers, record dealers, and everyday enthusiasts. The book is divided into two main parts: the first features 250 full-page photos framed by captions and select quotes, while the second consists of 12 full-length interviews that delve deeper into collectors’ personal histories and vinyl troves." - Dust & Grooves

Friday
Jun062014

VA - Too Slow To Disco Vol. 1

This mix of laid-back '70s soft-rock/pop/folk/jazz tracks and artists both familiar (including the Brothers both Doobie and Alessi, Fleetwood Mac, Chicago, Tony Joe White, Jan Hammer, and the recently-reviewed Ned Doheny, whose signature song "Get It Up For Love" opens the track listing) and new to us (hey there Browning Bryant, Brian Elliot, Don Brown, David Batteau and Robbie Dupree) has us hoping for/looking forward to future installments from upstart label How Do You Are?

"To turn your nose up at yacht rock and the Too Slow To Disco compliation would be to miss out on some fantastic songs, from the expert craftsmanship of Ned Doheny to the shimmy and swagger of Browning Bryant. Music trends really are cyclical, and this compendium is proof that you can’t keep good music down forever." - Sabotage Times

Wednesday
May282014

VA - Bowie Heard Them Here First

Following up on the soul/girl group focus of the Dusty Springfield edition of the always interesting Heard Them Here First series, this selection of songs covered by David Bowie is an eclectic mix of genres, to be expected given the chameleonic nature of his career. If you thought "Alabama Song" was first performed by the Doors (as I did), pick this up and hear who really recorded it first. The perpetual journey of musical discovery continues...

"The latest release in our Heard Them Here First series traces the career of David Bowie via an eclectic selection of the other writers’ songs he chose to record...As one might expect from the chameleonic Bowie, the featured tracks emanate from a diverse array of musical genres, eras and artists, from Lotte Lenya & the Three Admirals' 1930 recording of Bertolt Brecht & Kurt Weill’s 'Alabama Song' to the Pixies' spiky 'Cactus' from 1988's Surfer Rosa. Other unlikely bedfellows: Johnny Mathis and Iggy Pop; Bobby Bland and the Velvet Underground; Jacques Brel and Chuck Berry; Martha & the Vandellas and Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers, make for a strikingly wide-ranging programme." - Ace Records

Monday
May262014

COUSINS - The Halls Of Wickwire

The Halls Of Wickwire captures the intensity of Halifax two-piece Cousins' live show (they’ve been gamely trekking across North America for the past few years to considerable acclaim), while keeping things interesting with the addition of drummer Leigh Dotey's vocals. There is also a deeper lyrical poignancy to their ever-catchy, steady-thumpin' tunes. This is a garage-rock record with some real tenderness.

"Cousins' third full-length album is an excellent follow-up to 2012's The Palm At The End Of The Mind, equally raucous but also tinted with counterbalancing soul. Written in the aftermath of singer/guitarist Aaron Mangle’s grandmother's death in 2012, the 10 songs have lyrical cohesion in addition to thick, memorable riffs and gripping, VanGaalenesque melodies. The vaguely paranoid 'Body' and surging rocker 'Phone' use direct quotes from Mangle’s conversations with his grandmother while she dealt with dementia near the end of her life. Drummer Leigh Dotey adds distorted vocals to unhinged garage rocker 'What's Your Name,' and a sweeter co-lead turn on bleak murder duet 'Death Man.' Her rhythmic chops, meanwhile, are more pronounced than ever." - NOW

Monday
May262014

K. LEIMER - A Period Of Review: Original Recordings 1975-1983

Whether conjuring up electronic art-rock atmospheres à la Cluster & Eno or sample-laced, funkily abstract workouts in the vein of Material and My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, K. Leimer's output has been impressively constant (he continues to self-release in the same manner in which all these tracks were originally made available, via his Palace Of Lights imprint) but little-known up to now, making this RVNG set (an archival sequel of sorts to the label's 2012 Sensations' Fix collection Music Is Painting In The Air) all the more appreciated.

"The tape-manipulated serenity Leimer experienced with Cluster II was a key revelation. Leimer realized the potential to compose with minimal training and scoured pawnshops for cheap instruments and recording equipment to transpose his wayward musical instincts. Leimer’s sound palette and composition soon refined and heightened with the accessibility of dynamic equipment such as the Micromoog and TEAC multi-track tape machines." - RVNG

Monday
May262014

LEWIS - L'Amour

Just over two years after Weird Canada's Aaron Levin first posted about this peculiar, gently creepy record, Light In The Attic have finally reissued it, out now on CD with a vinyl edition soon to follow on July 8th. Anyone looking for some whispered new-age L.A. loner synth-folk to file near (but not too near) their Jandek and Arthur Russell records should look no further.

"In 1983, a man named Lewis recorded an album named L'Amour, which was released on the unknown label R.A.W. And that’s about all we know..The ingredients are simple: smooth synthesizers, feather-light piano, ethereal, occasionally inaudible vocals and the gentle plucking of acoustic guitars, but the effects are arresting...L'Amour is a true discovery of the blog age, uncovered in an Edmonton flea-market by collector Jon Murphy, passed on to private press fanatic Aaron Levin, shared on the internet and speculated over by lovers of curious LPs. There’s almost no information about Lewis or the album on the internet...Lewis remains a ghost, a total mystery, but the music will be heard." - Light In The Attic

Saturday
May242014

NED DOHENY - Separate Oceans

While we will have to ask you to keep your shirt on when in our shop, this new Numero single-disc anthology is your best heat-beating alternative, taking from his three '70s studio albums (one of which was Japan-only), and featuring many previously-unheard demos, including a handful of collaborations with Glenn Frey and Don Henley. If you're a fan of the likes of Jackson Browne, Boz Skaggs, Hall & Oates and Todd Rundgren but haven't yet heard Ned Doheny, welcome to the world of your new favourite blue-eyed soul songwriter!

"Over the last three decades, Doheny's albums have slid in and out of print on LP and CD, budget jobs without any involvement from the self-described 'avatar for casual vulgarity.' Separate Oceans examines Ned Doheny's first ten years adrift in song, pulling together choice album cuts and 11 previously unissued demos. An 8000-word essay is illustrated by images from the archives of noted rock photographers Henry Diltz, Moshe Brahka, Clive Arrowsmith, and Gary Heery, creating the first ever overview of this unheralded marina rocker." - Numero Group

Sunday
May112014

THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS - Dylan's Gospel

Unavailable for the past 10 years with copies of the out-of-print CD selling for hundreds of dollars, it's a joy to see this finally available again. And with Light in the Attic releasing it you're guaranteed a top-notch package; it's a perfect companion piece to their previously released revelatory gospel set from Pastor TL Barrett. Dylan notably found God in the late-70s but, based on the evidence here, it was in him all along. Undoubtedly, my favorite reissue of the year.

"In the summer of 1969, producer Lou Adler gathered twenty-seven of the best backup singers in Los Angeles to cover the music of Bob Dylan during a marathon two-day session. 'Sometimes there were more than twenty-seven voices,' Adler told Rolling Stone in 1969, 'because on several occasions real brothers and sisters stopped by and grabbed a part. It sounds corny, but that was the spirit of the thing. The tape stopped, but they were still singing.' Adler called his gospel choir The Brothers and Sisters of Los Angeles, and they made songs like 'Lady Lady Lay,' 'I Shall Be Released' and 'The Mighty Quinn' sound like they were written to be sung in church. 'You can find something spiritual about almost all of his music,' Adler says today. 'It's something that goes beyond just being a pop song, there's always something deeper than that in a Dylan song.'" - Rolling Stone

Friday
May092014

DYLAN SHEARER - Garagearray

As his response at the end of one of the few interviews we've been able to find with him attests to, Dylan Shearer is, in his own words, a "super obsessive music collector," which made complete sense (and admittedly further endeared him to us) upon reading such confirmation, since Garagearray unshowingly and unaffectedly hones in on a particularly early-'70s UK psych/folk slow/sadsack sweet spot, recalling such heavyweights as Kevin Ayers, Syd Barrett and Bill Fay while totally holding its own and sounding fresh and unique. Highly recommended and fully worthy of the attention of more ears!

"If Dylan Shearer's prior record Porchpuddles felt like the warm embrace of the sunniest of psychedelia, his new release Garagearray is the bittersweet glow of the post-trip comedown. Where Porchpuddles still had one hand gently resting on the leg of psych and garage, Garagearray seems to have bid adieu to the whole affair, instead turning in an album of sad, shy folk rock." - Side One Track One             

Thursday
May082014

MUYEI POWER - Sierra Leone In 1970s USA

When the typically compilation-minded Soundway decides to focus its efforts on a single-group archival release, chances are it's worthy of a listen, and this anthology, putting together five tracks originally released on 45s recorded in California by this Sierra Leone band during the mid-'70s, while short on running time, more than makes up for it with the insistence and infectiousness of each 6-to-7-minute-long workout.

"Fusing elements of electric Congolese and Nigerian music with fast, syncopated, uptempo modernised arrangements of traditional songs, Muyei Power produced a series of unique single-only releases that have been unavailable for 35 years. The rare recordings featured here are a glimpse of a dynamic and powerful band at the very height of its powers. For the early part of the 1970s, the band toured extensively throughout Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire before making a handful of 45s in local TV and radio studios. The recordings featured here, however, come from a period of touring the college circuit in California during late 1975 and early 1976. Orchestre Muyei Power finally split up in 1979, leaving no proper album releases and only a handful of recordings for us to enjoy all these years later. The tracks have been licensed courtesy of ex lead-singer and bandleader Abou Whyte who now lives in New Jersey and performs as a solo artist." - Soundway Records